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Broadway street fight as CB1 approves city’s ‘Triangle’ plan

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It started with rival protests and ended with a shouting match, but when the dust settled, the city’s plan to rezone a wide swath of South Williamsburg for low-income housing scored a major victory on Tuesday night.

North Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 voted 23–12 to support a city proposal to allow two developers to erect 1,851 units of housing units — 905 of which would charge below-market rents — in the 31-acre area of mostly commercial and industrial properties known as the Broadway Triangle.

The vote comes three weeks after CB1’s land use committee supported the rezoning with a number of stipulations.

The convoluted fight over the Triangle — which is bounded by Broadway, Flushing and Union avenues — is as much about planning as it is about power.

Supporters of the city’s proposal say it will provide much-needed units of affordable housing in contextually designed buildings. But opponents, who have drafted their own plan for taller buildings with more units, claim that they were excluded from the planning process.

Such critics also allege corruption between the city, Democratic Party boss and Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Bushwick), and two politically connected neighborhood groups — United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and the Bushwick Ridgewood Senior Citizens Council — that have been given the first crack at coveted affordable housing contracts.

Before Tuesday’s meeting began, both sides clashed on the street in front of the Swingin’ 60s Senior Center, waving banners and shouting at the other side.

Inside, the meeting itself remained tense.

“This zoning action asks you to approve a no-bid land giveaway … before you have had even the opportunity to consider the other planning options,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Bushwick), a former Lopez staffer who has turned against her mentor over the controversial rezoning. “We deserve an open process where all ideas are considered.”

Luis Garden Acosta, who says his non-profit El Puente was snubbed when the city shaped the plan, demanded that the board vote down the proposal (though the board vote is only advisory).

“You are the guardians of good government,” he said. “If you allow all of these other vested interests to get between you and your office and your mission, then we don’t have a community that can actually drive its own future.”

Those arguments seemed to resonate with board members who expressed concerns about the lack of public hearings and the no-bid disposition of land.

But supporters of the plan declared that the means justify the ends.

“Yes, the process is very important and it should be transparent or whatever, but there are hundreds of families — 50 percent of them from CB1 — who will have an opportunity to have a roof [over their heads],” said CB1 member Rabbi David Niederman, who leads the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, one of the non-profits that given dibs to develop the land.

“If we say no, what that means is going back to the drawing board,” added Niederman, who recused himself from the close vote. “Let’s not come back 25 years from now and still see the blighted area at the Broadway Triangle.”

When it came time to vote, the board supported its committee’s earlier caveats, which sought a cap on the amount of affordable housing built off-site, guarantees of a “transparent” process to eliminate no-bid contracts, a fund to help relocate affected businesses, and a promise that open space will be created in the area.

But the contentious meeting didn’t end with the vote — it continued in the senior center lobby!

After the decision, CB1 member Simon Weiser — who recused himself from the vote due to his past affiliation with the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg — and Broadway Triangle opponent Roberto Solano exchanged heated words until they were separated by concerned onlookers.

The Broadway Triangle plan will go before the borough president, the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council — where the city’s proposal has a foe in Reyna, but a friend in Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights), in whose district the triangle sits.

Updated 5:18 pm, July 16, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

Goyo from Los Sures says:
If Diana is against it sounds like the Latino community will not have a place in the triangle.
July 15, 2009, 9:50 pm
Bob from bushwick says:
Guys don’t you worry that munch. Its not going to happen as fast as you think, must elected officials are against this plan, its already in court, we will fight this all the way, together with the property owners of the area.........
July 16, 2009, 12:24 am
Drew from Williamsburg says:
The Williamsburg coalition Against triangel develpment : We are calling for a rally to stop this development. the community will be called on to demonstrate at city hall against this development , WE DEMAND A STOP RIGHT NOW . WE DONT WANT ANY DEVELOPMENT PERIOD
July 16, 2009, 1:48 pm
Stuart from williamsburg says:
Simon Weiser and Broadway Triangle opponent Roberto Solano exchanged heated words until they were separated by concerned onlookers. shimon is a nut case. a clown stays a clown Why is shimon weiser on the board to start with?
July 16, 2009, 5:09 pm
bc6474 from williamsburg says:
That's where I used to go to pick up HOES. What a great service they provided.
July 16, 2009, 6:41 pm
max from williamsburg says:
Isaac Abraham who is running for the city council (33) a Williamsburg resident you
Should know better the housing Needs in Williamsburg.im wondering why you didt have
the courage to support The Broadway triangle rezoning plan. Looks like you don’t need the
Williamsburg vote as you keep on saying I don’t need niderman endorsement... well let me tell you across most cb1 members approved the plan . wake up isaac
July 17, 2009, 6:22 pm
Bob says:
Max… I will try to explain how it’s really works at CB1 I was at the votes and going to many meetings, CB1 is basically noting the city can in always override any thing they like, the idea is to keep them busy especially if the city is blaming something that will be only CB1, here in Greenpoint was the same issue about 3 years ago voting for the opening of the park the city was blaming CB1 anyway,
Just for your information must elected officials didn’t support the Broadway triangle even they pushed it for rezoning!! They are going for an open process!! It’s not over till its over!!!
We are going to have more meetings about these months to come, so lets have some time and see this will be a very long process,
July 19, 2009, 12:57 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
Opponents said their plan would provide twice as much affordable housing - up to 4,800 units, 75% of them affordable - in buildings of up to 20 stories.
July 19, 2009, 1:08 pm
Matth from Brooklyn says:
This sellout is going to backfire on Rabbi Neiderman
July 19, 2009, 1:09 pm
Andy from Williamsburg says:

"The people who voted yes sold their soul to a corrupt deal," said Marty Needelman, a lawyer for the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. "The reasons are political, but the results are racial and religious."

Needelman said the group would bring a lawsuit charging that by leaving out mostly Hispanic groups in Williamsburg and African-American groups in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the city violated anti-discrimination laws.

He said the suit also would challenge the city's finding that towers would be "out of context" in the neighborhood, charging the buildings, capped at eight stories, were being geared toward the area's Jewish families, which can't use elevators on the Sabbath.

"That's the reason why they don't want high-rises. It has nothing to do with the esthetics," he said.
July 19, 2009, 1:13 pm

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